12 January 2011 @ 10:39 am
“Free” Books Aren’t Free  

I’m so frustrated.

This morning, I woke up to one of my best author friends deeply upset. A “fan” on Twitter had cheerily informed her that she illegally torrented a copy of that author’s book since the mean old publishers in her region hadn’t made it available. Never mind that it WAS actually available in that region; I hear that a lot.

They don’t sell your book in my $location, so I downloaded it.

I also hear, I will buy it later, and I don’t have any money, but I want to read it. Authors should make publishers print in $region! and I hate DRM. I download it, but then I recommend it to other people to buy!

I’ve been very open about the money I’ve made and not made, to help give the writing community some perspective. So I’m going to be very open about money today. I’ve told you before that I made a $15,000 advance on SHADOWED SUMMER. In two years, I’ve managed to earn back $12,000 of that.

It’s going out of print in hardcover because demand for it has dwindled to 10 or so copies a month. This means I will never get a royalty check for this book. By all appearances, nobody wants it anymore.

But those appearances are deceiving. According to one download site’s stats, people are downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week.

If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

If the 800+ downloads a week of my book were only HALF converted into sales, I would earn out in one more month. But I’m never going to earn out. And my book is never going to be available in your $region, not for lack of trying. My foreign rights agent is a genius at what she does, and has actively tried to sell it everywhere- UK, AU, China, France, you name it, she tried to sell it there.

SHADOWED SUMMER will only be coming out in Italy, because that’s the only place there’s a market for it.

And let me tell you guys… the sales figures on SHADOWED SUMMER had a seriously detrimental effect on my career. It took me almost two years to sell another book. I very nearly had to change my name and start over. And my second advance? Was exactly the same as the first because sales figures didn’t justify anything more. I don’t blame my publisher. There’s weak demand for my books, according to my sales figures.

Meanwhile, 800 copies of my book (worth about $1200 toward my advance, if everyone paid for a copy,) are being downloaded a week.

And now, one of the top search terms on my website for THE VESPERTINE, a book that won’t even come out until March is, “download vespertine +saundra”. They have to put my name in because otherwise, they’re looking for a way to illegally download Bjork’s album.

Guys, seriously. I know it sucks to have to wait. I know it sucks when a book isn’t available in your region. Seriously, I know. I just paid a friend $15.00 for an $8.00 paperback, so I could get a copy of RJ Anderson’s ARROW. A book, I might add, that I read last year when RJ sent me the manuscript.

I know DRM sucks. I know region-limitation sucks. And I know being poor sucks (as I just told you, I’ve made 30k over the course of 4 years now, that’s like $7500/year. I totally know being poor sucks.) But when you illegally download a book, you’re simply guaranteeing that a publisher will look at my royalty statements next year and decide not to publish the next one. Promises to recommend my book to other people never seem to pan out- sales still drop, downloads remain steady.

If you really love books, find a way to pay for them. The WORLD wide web is, in fact, world-wide. I bet you know someone in the region that sells the book you want. I bet even if you don’t, you can connect with a fellow book-lover in that region on Twitter.

If you REALLY can’t afford books, ask your library to order them. I love libraries. I love them so much- they buy lots and LOTS of copies, and will rebuy them if they’re very popular. Many are even starting to buy digital copies, so you can read them on your e-reader. When you check my book out from the library, you’re paying for it, just indirectly.

If you really, REALLY can’t afford books, and live in a mushroom village that has no library, then write to my publisher’s publicity department. Ask them for a review copy. And by god, if you get a free review copy- review it! Send that review to my publisher so they can use it! Post it on bookseller websites! Give the review copy away to other readers when you’re done. Pay for it with sweat equity- spreading the word is buying my books.

And honestly? If you’re just going to download it illegally anyway, don’t tell me. I’d rather not be personally acquainted with the people pushing me out of the publishing business because the book they want isn’t available at the price, or the format, or the region they want it in RIGHT NOW.

Because that’s what it boils down to is convenience. People who illegally download books are more interested in their convenience than in supporting the authors they want to read. It’s not hard to go to the library, it just takes time. It’s not hard to buy a physical copy and convert it to a personal digital copy if you’re willing to make the time and effort. It’s not hard to buy a legal digital copy and convert it to the format you want. Dear Author has tutorials. It’s not hard to ask someone in the $region to post you a copy.

You simply have to want to. So if you were inclined to illegally download anyone’s book, if you’re one of the people trying to find an illegal download of my brand new book that’s not even in stores yet: please buy it. Or check it out. Or ask for a review copy.

Or please read another book that’s instantly, and legally, available to you so that books continue to be instantly, and legally, available to you.

Thank you.

-Saundra

Originally published at MSUFaL. You can comment here or there.

 
 
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( 269 comments )
rhiannonherorhiannonhero on January 12th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
I have a professional musician on my friends list and he makes posts like this all the time. He said the amount of time he spends cracking down on his albums being distributed illegally (he's a fairly popular, but completely independent artist) is ridiculous. And that he'll be at a show and someone will come up and just cheerily tell him that, "Hey, I illegally downloaded your songs, man. LOVE THEM!"

It's insane how entitled people are.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
It especially makes me crazy because authors, filmmakers, musicians- already offer SO MUCH free content! You can't throw a stick without hitting a Creative Commons musician or author on the Internet. So why all the illegal downloading??

Edited at 2011-01-12 04:46 pm (UTC)
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(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 20th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 20th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 20th, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
An Incident We'd Rather Not Discuss - mstrjedi39 on January 28th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: An Incident We'd Rather Not Discuss - anywherebeyond on January 28th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kirby_crow on January 13th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
Lisa Mantchev: Angry Chewinglisamantchev on January 12th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
The really depressing thing for me is that for every "fan" that says something, there are hundreds that don't, people who illegally download books _every day_ with little to no thought or care about the authors they are hurting, and there are entire websites and communities dedicated to shady file sharing. I finally turned my Google-alerts off because I was sick of seeing the notes popping up of people either offering or requesting my books (and my sole audio book, and the imaginary audio book of Perchance to Dream, which doesn't even exist) with brazen regularity.

DOOD, people, I can see you asking! Google comes to TELL me, even if you don't.

I don't care if you are the nicest person on the planet, foster small kittens in your spare time, and read to the blind. You are still a thief. You are hurting my livelihood and the livelihoods of many of my friends.

You get my fiction for free, so have a few more words on the house: You are an arsehole.

*scowls into my coffee*
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Jackson Pearcewatchmebe on January 12th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
That's the main reason I keep google alerts going. They send them to me, I forward the alert to my publisher, the site gets a cease and desist.
It doesn't STOP the downloading, but I think it's helped.
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(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - echan314 on January 12th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
bostonerinbostonerin on January 12th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
This is the frustrating, awful side to this business--readers who love books can literally RUIN US.

I will add that Overdrive is FREE app that anyone can download that allows you to download ebooks from LIBRARIES. FOR FREE. All you need is a library card.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
YES! I cannot pimp libraries hard enough. I love that I can both check out AND download books from the library. Support for local libraries is so so important- and the more people use them, the more they justify the taxes it takes to keep them open.

You can have our books for free- get them from the library!
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(no subject) - echan314 on January 12th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
moonlitpines: Vespertinemoonlitpines on January 12th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
Preach. People never, ever think about the damage that ripples out from a selfish act. And that's exactly what this is. My wants are more important than your needs.

Riiiight. That makes you a STELLAR person.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Bb, I was just so sad when I saw that pop up in my stats. I honestly could not believe people were trying to illegally download my brand new book before it's even *out*.
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(no subject) - seanan_mcguire on January 12th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Caroline Hootonhooton on January 12th, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
Word to all this (and if it's okay with you, I'd like to link to your post on my Twitter, Facebook and LJ).

I'd also point out that if you are genuinely a fan of someone's work and you're desperate to get an advance or free copy of their book, then there's nothing to stop you emailing the publisher's marketing department and asking for an ARC. That's how I get free books. All it costs you is a review and if you genuinely love someone's work, that should be a given anyway. Plus it puts you on a list for more free books from more fab authors.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
Seriously. I am all for paying for review copies with sweat equity. Even if the review isn't a good one, it's still good to have the review! Many retailers "reward" books with a vigorous review section with higher and more visible placement on their sites!
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sachaw on January 12th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. I will be showing it to everyone I know. I'm curious, Shadowed Summer may have come out at a bad time for illegal downloads... does your publisher have a department now to try to deal with piracy? Or do you think it's even something we can fight?
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
Random House has an *extraordinary* Digital Rights department. They do an amazing job of shutting down illegal downloads when we find them. In fact, we call the person in charge of shutting them down THE DECIMATOR. :) And I do think shutting them down helps. Because I feel like MOST people are honest people who just want to read the book. If it's easier to legally buy it than it is to illegally download it-- I do believe people would buy it!
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dawn_metcalf: Axedawn_metcalf on January 12th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you for doing this. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for being honest & thank you for writing, period.

If you love books, then love the authors behind them. Allow them to write the books you love by getting the money they deservedly earned.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
*hugs* For real, for real, for real. We're not making tons of money, but if the business aspect falls out completely, most writers will get other jobs. Can't pay the rent on love!
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Sarah Rees Brennansarahtales on January 12th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
I am with you. (On many, many levels, including not earning out and frantic worry about selling another book.) But you knew that.

The Vespertine won't be for sale in Ireland, though, so I illegally downloaded a copy! Wait, no, I ordered it online from www.thebookdepository.co.uk. It'll look nice next to my copy of Shadowed Summer. ;)

Also, you are awesome.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
*pashes* Thank you for buying my books, even though you get to read the manuscripts for free. I look very much forward to putting your UK version of DEMON'S SURRENDER next to the US version of it. I like supporting authors whose books I love! <3

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(no subject) - debamarshall on January 12th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
aprilhenryaprilhenry on January 12th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
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(no subject) - cypherindigo on January 12th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sarahtales on January 12th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aprilhenry on January 12th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Shadow Greentrees/Sabersinger aka Joyce Chng: dragonjolantru on January 12th, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
Came here via Twitter.

And yes, hear, hear! Totally agreed with what you have written. I have a book coming out in April. Ebook - but still, I worry if illegal copies end up floating around.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Dude, you have my utmost sympathy, because ESPECIALLY for people coming out in digital format only-- piracy takes a huge bite out of your market, and punishes you for being ahead of the curve. Here's to hoping your e-book is purchased, often, and illegally downloaded never!
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Tsukihimetsukihime_san on January 12th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Hi! I got here from the link on twitter and I'm glad I've read this. I never realized how bad it can get with illegal book downloading. I always thought that to be an issue for movies and music mostly.

For me, library has always been the answer. I read more than three-four books a week, so even if I had money to buy them, I still would've ran out of storage space long time ago.

Only a few times in 10 or so years I couldn't find the book I needed in our town's library and our librarians still could help me get it through inter-library loans. There are no excuses for stealing books. None at all.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 13th, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC)
Isn't interlibrary loan the BEST? It's amazing the superpowers that librarians have. Obviously, I'm a huge, drooling fangirl about libraries.

Sadly, pretty much anything can be pirated. If you can convert it, it's available for download somewhere...
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(no subject) - tsukihime_san on January 13th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Marlene Perezmarperez on January 12th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)

Barb Ferrer also posted about this recently.
http://caridadferrer.com/2010/12/20/an-open-letter-to-book-pirates/

I agree with everything you've said. I'll also add that any independent bookstore I know will GLADLY order a specific book if someone asks. There are also tons of online bookstores like Amazon, or go to IndieBound. And if someone is TRULY a fan, they will not participate in illegal download sites. I just saw one that CHARGES their members, so the website owner will (illegally) make more money off my book than I will.
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Deb  A. Marshalldebamarshall on January 12th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
You know, I had no idea. So, they even charge for the website to download the copies. Man.

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(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 13th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Deb  A. Marshalldebamarshall on January 12th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
Wow. Thank you, thank you. You've given me a much better way of saying you really shouldn't do that--it's like stealing someone's pay check. It's one thing to know that, it's another thing to be able to point to a post like this and say...SEE!! It's even more than that you are messing with their job.
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cynleitichsmithcynleitichsmith on January 12th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
Rock on. I'm 100 percent behind you.

I do recommend sending your agent/publisher the URLs to any illegal download sites. Mine are quite determined to shut them down and successful at it.

I wonder how we got to this place, where people feel comfortable saying out loud that they steal from artists?
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Sarah Rees Brennansarahtales on January 12th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
I have no idea, but as the writer friend she's talking about who got tweeted at, I admit today was an eye-opener in that I assumed people wouldn't feel comfortable saying to the artists that they steal from them. Um... my bad.

I got deeply downhearted sending my publisher all the links, because looking at them upset me, but I do feel a bit galvanised by this point! Back on the reporting horse.
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(no subject) - cindachima on January 12th, 2011 05:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thunderchikin on January 12th, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thunderchikin on January 12th, 2011 11:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 13th, 2011 02:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
farsh_nukefarsh_nuke on January 12th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
I have a kindle and I am a very skint student but I brought it as an investment because next year I go to university and enter debt for the first time. The kindle will be my only real supply of fiction.

It's at this point when you might be expecting me to say 'and that's why I illegally download' but I don't because when it comes to literature, you're spoiled for choice. Free books are everywhere online and often legally, you just search for 'fanfiction' yes you won't get quality the likes of @Paul_Cornell but often you can get familiar characters and settings with moderately enjoyable plot and I've just Brought my first ever ebook, Any Human Heart and for those who may complain about the price (nearly twice as much as a paperback) the ability to highlight and share passages increases the enjoyment of the book at least as much since you feel as if the world is reading the book with you.

At the end of the day though I feel ebooks should be paid for and their writers supported more as musicians and stars of film and tv can sell spin off products, or stage versions while writers can't. No book can be performed at a gig for 50 times the rrp of the original or be franchised off in anyway, there is just literary brilliance.

Oh and does anyone know how you can digitise a book and make sure it's legally available for others who want a digital copy? I have some Doctor Who New Adventures reprints that I'm sure fans would want digital copies of.
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spastasmagoria: pokemonspastasmagoria on January 12th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
Just because something is not in print, that does not mean it is legal to digitize this (I'm a digitization librarian--we go through this quite a lot with things it would be 'nice' to digitize). We usually don't even look seriously at items that're not government documents that were produced after 1911-ish. The Virgin novels and the New Adventures are 99.9999% probability NOT available to legally digitize. Any digitization would have to be done either BY the original publisher, or with the permission of the publisher, and even then, the publisher will likely want their cut of said digitized "sales," so giving it away for free would not likely be an option. They still own the copyright, and even though the book is out of print, they own the RIGHT to first sales of copies, regardless of format.
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(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 13th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spastasmagoriaspastasmagoria on January 12th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)
To those who think piracy is the ONLY way to enjoy media for free...

As a librarian, may I suggest a LEGAL and FREE way to get access to books you can't afford/wish to try before you buy?

CHECK THEM OUT AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!!!

Libraries' funding often depends greatly on how many people check out books at the library. You, checking out a book, increases funding for your library next fiscal year. You, checking out a hundred books can mean a HUGE difference in the budget.

WAAA WAAA, my library doesn't have the types of books I like!!!

1) Have you ever talked to your librarian and asked them to purchase books in a particular genre, or better yet, SPECIFIC BOOKS!?

A lot of time and thought goes into purchasing books for collections, but we're just guessing--TELL US. TELL US you want SHADOWED SUMMER, and if we are able, we will purchase it. If we cannot, there is another option...

2) Inter-library loan. Your library can borrow it from another library. You get to read it, and both libraries get to add a number to their statistics showing that people use their services.

But, wait, if I'm reading it for free, what's the difference between that, and piracy? I still get it for free? I mean, that whole "altruistic helping my library" thing aside?

Your favorite author still gets sales: 100 libraries buying a copy of a book is 100 book sales for your favorite author. And if a book or author is HOT, and there are multiple requests for books, we will buy multiple copies. That's 150 or 200 or 300 sales for your favorite author, instead of PIRACY.

So, really, there's no need for the piracy. Or the bragging about piracy.
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David BigwoodDavid Bigwood on January 12th, 2011 05:24 pm (UTC)
More Legal Free Books
Aside from libraries, there are legal sites for downloading older, out-of-copyright books. Project Gutenberg has kept my nook filled with books by Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Kipling, Stevenson, etc. Plenty of good reads there. The Adelaide University Electronic Texts Collection is another good site for classic texts.
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(no subject) - anywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spastasmagoria on January 13th, 2011 06:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chickwriter on January 12th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spastasmagoria on January 13th, 2011 06:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - electricland on January 13th, 2011 05:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
X: readingmore_dragoncelt on January 12th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
I can almost imagine how devastating that can be and I am honestly surprised by the nerve of people, particularly the ones who say "Hi, I ripped you off and I LOVED IT! Teehee!" Honestly?

What is your take on used bookstores and places like Paperbackswap.com?
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Sarah Rees Brennansarahtales on January 12th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
I am stalking Saundra's post for comfort at this point, but I get asked this question a lot, and it always puzzles me: it makes sense to me that once someone has bought a copy, they get to do with that one copy whatever the hell they like, aside from making new copies as only the publisher gets to do that. Loan it to friends. Sell it on. Pee on it. Anything! Publisher and writer already got the money for that book. I use and like used bookshops myself, it's a great way to find out-of-print books for one thing...

Nobody has ever told me they peed on my book, but I'd be much less upset about that than stealing it. ;)
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(no subject) - sarahtales on January 12th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - Mike Mullin on January 14th, 2011 04:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - more_dragoncelt on January 13th, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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cindachimacindachima on January 12th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
piracy
Saundra, this is an awesome post. Im a YA fantasy writer who is so-o-o frustrated with this. I posted on it a while back, (http://cindachima.livejournal.com/26726.html)and I think it's time to revisit. I try to send urls to my publisher, but sometimes I feel like it's whack-a-mole--I whack one site and they pop up elsewhere.
The only solution to this is to make piracy socially unacceptable. Confront it wherever yu find it--whether it's music, movies, or books. Let your friends and family know you don't approve. Drunk driving used to be considered a "victimless crime," and now it's not so much. There are also anti-piracy buttons you can add to your website and blogs. You'll find one on my blog here http://cindachima.blogspot.com/ which can be freely copied and used.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
Re: piracy
I think you're ABSOLUTELY right. This is a crime that we can totally fight by making it socially unacceptable. Thank you so much for sharing your post, and your buttons! I really do believe if we can just get people to see they *are* hurting some*one*, and not just a faceless corp, that things can change!
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Re: piracy - bookshelflust.wordpress.com on January 12th, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Cindy: batgirlcindysku on January 12th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
As a librarian I always will purchase books if a patron asks for them. I love connecting people with books to read. People give your librarian suggestions of books. We will buy the books.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
*hugsandloves* Librarians really are super heroes! People, please talk to your librarians- they love books too and they want you to have them!
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Toby Greenwalttheanalogdivide on January 12th, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
Library eBooks
Saundra -

I'm a librarian who happened to catch a link to your post on Twitter. I just wanted to say thanks for keeping libraries in mind. The electronic distribution model is raising all sorts of questions in our world. Because we're seen as a ways down on the totem pole, we don't really have a seat at the table as the distribution model continues to change.

As a result, our options for pursuing ebooks for lending are limited. Overdrive gets the job done, but they're still a middleman and are limited by what books publishers make available to them. If you're an author looking at a contract, make sure your ebook distribution rights allow your book to be loaned out. More and more people are checking our collections to see if a book is available for download, so at the very least it can be one more step readers can take before they turn to the torrents.

Anyhow, I just wanted to chime in. Keep fighting the good fight.
Toby Greenwalt
Virtual Services Coordinator, Skokie (IL) Public Library

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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Library eBooks
Thank you for chiming in Toby, I really appreciate it. Authors and agents are doing their dead level best to make the most of e-rights, and to get books of all sorts into the hands of libraries. But I'm glad you posted about this, and next contract I get (hopefully, I will get another! :) ) I will make absolutely sure that lending is part of my digital works. I love libraries; without them, I wouldn't BE a writer. And I want to do everything I can to support them!
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Re: Library eBooks - vlion on January 16th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Thoughtthought_goddess on January 12th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
Hi, saw this linked on twitter. I completely agree with what you're saying and as someone who's hoping to oneday get published, I have the same concerns. I just wanted to address one thing.
"It’s not hard to buy a physical copy and convert it to a personal digital copy if you’re willing to make the time and effort"
I am completely blind, so for most of the books out there this is exactly what I have to do in order to read them. Only a fraction of books are available as audio books, and then only the popular books. The DRM on ebooks makes it impossible for screenreading software to work with the ebook. So there is no casually going out to the bookstore and picking up a book to read. If I find a book that I am absolutely sure I want to read, I buy the print copy and then have two choices. I can turn each page and scan it on a flatbed scanner myself. I'm lucky in that my family owns a much faster scanner that will feed the pages through quickly, but this requires cutting the spine off of the book and is also not an option available to most people. Once the book has been scanned, it goes through OCR so that my screenreader can actually read the text instead of just seeing a picture. The OCR, especially on books with thinner pages or any sort of strange font formatting, isn't particularly accurate. Entire paragraphs will come through with no spaces between the words, or words will be split apart, or letters will be read as numbers or other letters. So my choices then are to work my way through the book, translating letter by letter and guessing as I go or convince a friend or family member to read through the book with both the print and electronic versions and edit the entire thing )not unsurprisingly, people don't have the time or willingness to do this). Some examples: I got a book for Christmas last year and didn't get to read it until late March. I bought a series of books in November, and got the rough text back in a few days, but haven't actually made it through more than 100 pages of the first book because the process of editing while I read takes away from the enjoyment of reading the story. So if I put in the time and efort to create personal accessible versions of everything I wanted to read, I would have to have far more money than I do and nothing but time on my hands. :D

Sorry, I totally didn't mean to go off on a rant about this, I'm just putting it out there that there is that one in every few thousand people who might have a valid reason for downloading and will buy a copy of the book even if it's of no use to them. And that's not the writer's problem, it's the publishers who seem to panic everytime anyone even mentions removing DRM, and it's the fact that there simply aren't enough print-disabled people out there to make it worth the publishers time or risk. Obviously I'm in no way saying that illegal downloading is anywhere near ok, just trying to get all the viewpoints out there.

Anyway, long comment is long, sorry. :)
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
I love long comments, and I really do appreciate you adding your voice. Disability access is SO SO important. I make an absolute exception- as does US law- when it comes to converting and using downloads to facilitate people who can't read the standard editions of my books.

I have, and I will continue, to provide copies of my books to folks willing to make the conversions, and to make those conversions easily and freely available to people who need them. YA is an especially underserved market when it comes to access copies, so- no pun intended- on the few occasions that I've seen my work on accessibility sites, I have turned a blind eye.

I do NOT want to keep people who *need* alternate access versions from my books. I just really want people who simply WANT an immediate, free version of my book to think about what they're really doing when they illegally download it.
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(no subject) - littlefluffycat on January 12th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - firynze on January 12th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thought_goddess on January 13th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - firynze on January 13th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Owen LibOwen Lib on January 12th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks
I shared this on our library's fb. This is something people really need to be more aware of. People in general are pretty clueless as to how things work in the publishing world. We have a growing collection of downloadable media via Overdrive, and LOVE getting requests....when we get them. Thank you for sharing this with us.
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks
Thank you very much for sharing it! I love libraries, and I love how quickly and enthusiastically that libraries have embraced new media (and always have.) It's an extraordinary system-- you really can read any book you want for free- you just have to visit, and SUPPORT, your local libraries! They are here to help!
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Paula: ireadalotelectrictoes on January 12th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
What I've never understood is the idea of 'I can't afford your book' or 'My shops don't stock it' as a reason for illegally downloading books.

That's what libraries are for.

I can't afford to buy a lot of books, but I visit the library regularly, even though it sometimes means I have to wait for the book to be available, it's still worth it for good literature, and for the author to still get payment for it, even if it's not what they would have received if you'd bought it. And there's the recognition there, too. How often books are borrowed from the library is an indication of their popularity that could never be established because of illegal downloading.

I just don't understand that sort of excuse. It's a rubbish justification of 'I'm too lazy' or 'I don't care enough.'

[/rant]
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
It makes me sad- someone on Twitter just complained that if they go to the library, they have to make two whole trips! That's just laziness! I know it's not fun to have to wait for a copy of a book to become available, but seriously-- it's going to be less fun if no books are available because no one's buying them anymore!!
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(no subject) - electrictoes on January 12th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Work your library - SavvyEscapades on January 12th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ryenna on January 13th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
Library Laziness - sarahdreyer on January 13th, 2011 07:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
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An Incident We'd Rather Not Discussanywherebeyond on January 12th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, please do link away! And send those links to your publisher if you can. They will try to shut them down. It won't ever stop it completely, but turning a gush into a trickle can only be good for you!
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(no subject) - otterdance on January 12th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - BookshelfLust on January 12th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - claviegirl on January 12th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hmz1505 on January 12th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - victimstatus on January 16th, 2011 08:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - otterdance on January 16th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - necropalice on January 16th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Apologies to all - otterdance on January 16th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Apologies to all - necropalice on January 16th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Mundie Momsmundiemoms on January 12th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
I am behind you 100% I don't get why this is an issue. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's done in your own home or the store. Seriously, is it really worth someone's lack of patience to, excuse me for saying this, screw over an author who's source of income comes from people buying their book? I honestly don't get why anyone thinks it's okay to do this.I can guarantee if those who are stealing books, had someone stealing from them and cost them a paycheck, they'd look at this differently.
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Sarah Dreyersarahdreyer on January 13th, 2011 07:43 am (UTC)
People find ways to justify illegal downloads because they're not actually standing in front of you putting their hand into your handbag and fossicking around for your wallet. It's so easy to steal this way - a couple of clicks of your mouse and it's done, hey presto - that it doesn't actually feel like stealing at all, it just feels like reading someone's blog, or checking your email. It's only after that that the justifications come into play, once the whole thing is a done deed. If they actually had to lift that wallet - or even tuck a printed book into their pants - most people wouldn't do it.

I'm totally not condoning, by the way. I love to write and am returning to it after a decade-long burn-out hiatus, and given the state of the publishing industry in general, and any new writer's chances of being accepted for publication at all (and this is even without taking piracy into account), I'm honestly considering not even going there, and just trying to make a buck out of journalism. And I am not a writer of journalistic bent.

Thanks for the post, Saundra. I came here from Twitter and it's good to see some numbers added to the argument.
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Thanks. - jamesmparr on January 14th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
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